Constantly applying quarterback pressure is a significant advantage in today's NFL.
In other words, presenting pass-rushers that are consistently dependable will favor the defense in a league driven by offense. With free agency just around the corner, veteran pass-rushers such as Osi Umenyiora will be an appealing get.
Simply because offenses elect to throw more these days increases the number of sack opportunities. And a defense will immediately keep pace by adding an established player such as Umenyiora, as opposed to developing a rookie.
Plus, Umenyiora isn't the only one who will potentially become available.
Note: Full unofficial list of 2013 free agents courtesy of NFL.com.
Andre Carter, DE
Andre Carter turns 34 years old before the 2013 season kicks off. Unfortunately, the veteran has not enjoyed much annual consistency since 2006. Over the past seven campaigns, Carter has gone from producing six sacks or fewer to 10-plus on an alternating basis.
Given a confined role, however, and the guy still brings the tenacity and quick jump at the line to make an impact. When in a rhythm, as Carter was during the 2007, 2009 and 2011 seasons, he contributes effectively across the board.
Whether it's forced fumbles, sacks and/or tackles, Carter has the instincts and discipline to make things happen. And his proven track record as an established rusher does increase the appeal.
Dwight Freeney, DE/LB
At 33 years old, it's reasonable to suspect that Dwight Freeney is on the decline. Over the past two seasons, he has just 13.5 sacks and 31 tackles.
More of a true 4-3 defensive end instead of a 3-4 outside linebacker, though, Freeney's regression in a new defense last season was not surprising. With the short-area quickness and athleticism to defeat single blocks, Freeney remains an excellent pass-rushing option for anyone in 2013.
Plus according to Albert Breer of NFL.com via Chris Wesseling in February:
The Colts met with both Freeney and [Austin] Collie on Friday and told the two that they will not be re-signed, a team source told NFL.com's Albert Breer. The Colts later confirmed that Freeney will not be back with the team next season.
By restricting him to longer down-and-distances and third downs, Freeney will get inflated numbers. When rushers age, a limited snap count keeps them fresh, and the natural talent of No. 93 will be incredibly valuable to a defense needing to bolster its front seven.
Shaun Phillips, LB
Although Shaun Phillips is turning 32 years old before next season, the guy is still an impressive athlete. Last season, he bounced back with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 50 tackles.
Presenting sound lateral balance and top speed for the position, Phillips has proven to be capable of being a No. 1 pass-rusher. The San Diego Chargers definitely need to keep him aboard, as he led in sacks and also defended three passes. But that may not be the case, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune last month:
The Chargers have virtually no dead money at present, which is among the reasons why executive vice president Ed McGuire essentially has a job for life no matter who the general manager is.
What this all means for Shaun Phillips, who led the Chargers with 9½ sacks in the final year of his contract, is that he’ll be wearing different colors in 2013.
Obviously a prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker, Phillips has the awareness and speed to fit a 4-3 'backer as well. Without question, his production would be altered but he is an every-down player capable of creating backfield turbulence at a solid rate.
Osi Umenyiora, DE
Similar to Freeney, Osi Umenyiora is best as a 4-3 defensive end to generate any sort of quarterback pressure. Regarding free agency, via Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger after Super Bowl XLVII:
Technicality, but Osi Umenyiora's '13 year of contract voids if on roster 5th day after Super Bowl, i.e. 4:01 p.m. today. #nyg— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) February 7, 2013
Combining the strength, power and hand techniques to work offensive linemen, Umenyiora still holds every snap talent. At the age of 31, Umenyiora also provides excellent postseason experience as he has won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
The 2011 postseason was quite impressive because he recorded 3.5 sacks, nine tackles and forced one fumble. Simply put: There is no replacement for the intangible of having won two Vince Lombardi Trophies.